Natural Disasters

Subduction zone mechanics

Ancient Faults & Water Are Sparking Earthquakes Off Alaska

Ancient faults that formed in the ocean floor millions of years ago are feeding earthquakes today along stretches of the Alaska Peninsula, and likely elsewhere, a new study suggests.

by |November 16, 2015

Rapid-Fire Cyclones over the North Indian Ocean

With Chapala’s destructive landfall in Yemen just a couple of days in the past, a second tropical cyclone, Megh, has just formed in the Arabian Sea. This one is not forecast to become anywhere near as intense as Chapala did—though we know intensity forecasts can be wrong, as they were at early stages for both Chapala and Patricia.

by |November 5, 2015
Visible satellite image of Hurricane Patricia at 10:00 AM EDT on October 23.

Historic Hurricane Nears Landfall on Southwest Coast of Mexico

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever observed in either the Atlantic or eastern Pacific, is expected to make landfall on the Southwest coast of Mexico this afternoon and evening as an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane.

by |October 23, 2015
The large abandoned channel we hoped to work in is completely flooded.

Pani, Pani Everywhere

Heading out to our field area, we discovered that the abandoned river valley we planned to study was completely flooded. There was pani—the Bangla word for water—everywhere.

by |October 14, 2015
The Taj Mahal. You can see its enormous size from the line of people waiting to get inside standing on the pedestal. The line completely circled the tomb on this holiday weekend.

Bangladesh and India, Too

Returning to Bangladesh for additional fieldwork, I stopped off in India for several meetings, but we found time for some sightseeing, too. We were able to see the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra. Plus all the meetings in Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka were very successful.

by |October 13, 2015
Storm Surge cover art

How Superstorm Sandy Inspired an Award-Winning Book

“A lot of the challenge is understanding what we as a species should do, because the disasters are getting more prevalent. In the last hundred years, both in human and financial costs, damages are skyrocketing. Most of that is just more people living in dangerous places, but climate change will be more of a factor as time goes on.”

by |September 29, 2015
Map of hazards data points

Mapping Tool Lets Users Pinpoint Hazards Data

The SEDAC Hazards Mapper is designed for disaster risk managers, humanitarian response organizations, public health professionals, journalists and others needing a quick assessment of the potential dangers posed by a major hazardous event or developing emergency.

Map fusion combines night light, population density and elevation data to show the contrast between the densely populated Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and the sparsely populated mountain ranges surrounding it. The urban cores (red) have population densities approaching 100,000 people per square kilometer, while the surrounding agricultural areas have average population densities around 1000 people per square kilometer. Courtesy of Chris Small

A Simple Question, Unexpected Applications – and an Award

Even the simplest research questions can lead to far-reaching public benefits. Consider Chris Small and Joel Cohen’s study of global population by altitude, being honored this week at the Library of Congress.

by |September 14, 2015
An aerial photo shows the edge of the Holuhraun lava flow (blue line), where the lava went over a combination of sand and bedrock. Two types of lava appear on either side of the red line: smooth pahoehoe on the right and rubbly a’a on the left.

From the Field: Mapping Lava Flows in Iceland

Lamont’s Einat Lev and Elise Rumpf write about their expedition to the lava fields of Iceland, where the two volcanologists and a drone named Buzz studied how lava flows and what happens to rivers, rocks and old lava in its path.

by |September 9, 2015

Bringing Together Storm Tracks and Clouds

The storm tracks define the weather and climate in mid-latitudes. A recent workshop in Switzerland highlighted the important role that clouds play for the response of the storm tracks to climate change.

by |September 8, 2015